Deke Challenge Winner Authors New Course at

Little did we know when we held last year's Deke's Techniques challenge that we were also going on a talent search for But in fact, the winner of the Photoshop Challenge (that classic "It's a Plaid, Plaid World") has now created her first course. This movie above is an excerpt from Robin Schneider's new course, Illustrator for Fashion Design: Drawing Flats.

Congratulations (again), Robin. We'll be able to say we knew you when. And for those of you who would like to try out Robin's course (and of course a pile of courses by some guy named Deke, too), you can get a free seven-day trial at more » 

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Deke's Techniques 210: Creating a Dramatic Cartoon Background

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke shows you how he used Adobe Illustrator to create the delightful yet dramatic background for his cartoon character---that grumpy bird known as the Baconator---that he introduced to you last week.

Despite the whimsical visual intricacy of the final piece, the starting point is very simple, consisting of a few geometric shapes that will be duplicated, stretched, and spun around via Illustrator's dynamic effects---all without having to draw a thing beyond a rectangle or elipse. 

These simple shapes become a dramatic cartoon background

Here's a look at how Deke transformed this collection of shapes into an eye-catching deceptively simple landscape, suitable for your game design, children's book illustration, or fugues into imaginary cartoon lands:  Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 207: Creating a Cartoon Grumpy Bird's Body in Illustrator

Create a Grumpy Bird Cartoon Body in Illustrator

In this week's Deke's Techniques episode, Deke contemplates the creation of cartoon gaming characters in Adobe Illustrator. (This creature may or may not bear homage to a certain video game Deke might have played before he became obsessed with Fieldrunners.) 

But the point of the exercise is to explore how the highly graphical creatures that populate our modern pastimes are created from standard shapes, which are then stretched, filled, warped, duplicated, highlighted, and shaded in Illustrator. So start with this:

And end up here by the end of the video: 

I sort of love this featureless egg-like-but-with-telltale-hair creature, but there's more:  Read more » 

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Making Your Own Luck: My Hunt for a Suitable Four-Leaf Clover

My lucky dekeRechauns. This week, I've been searching for a four-leaf clover---ostensibly in honor of St. Patrick's Day, but mostly because I needed to think of something to write about for today. And I couldn't think of a suitably graphical project centered around the Ides of March.

My journey took me through dozens of Fotolia stock photos, the cache of prefabricated Photoshop shapes, and hours if not minutes of Deke video training on Adobe Illustrator. Eventually, I used the last of these to create my own personal lucky four-leaf clover that combines the whimsy of Colleen-O-Vision, the spirals of Irish Neolithic art, and an adaptation of one of Deke's infamous pirate-themed projects: 

You can easily adapt my method (which is really just an adaption of Deke's method) for your own. So put down your disgusting green beer (for St. Patrick's sake, just grab a Guinness) and let me share my tale.

I started out searching through the stock images in the Fotolia Image Library. There are some wonderful St. Patrick's Day-themed graphics there. But if you want to skip the Lucky Charms-inspired cartoons, I suggest the keywords "clover" and "carpet." That's how I found this gorgeously lit image by Carly Hennigan (Fotolia image #33180070): 

However lovely this photograph is and however much it makes me want to grab my own Guinness and lie down in a bed of clover, I don't see any four-leafers in the frame. So my next stop was Photoshop:  Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 201: Op Art Experiment 2a: An Undulating Pattern in Illustrator

Deke's Techniques 201: Op Art Experiment 2a: An Undulating Pattern in Illustrator

One of my favorite things about Deke is his focus, and by that I mean he gets an idea in his brain and won't let go until he's figured it out. I have a feeling that's what happened the first time he started doing Op Art experiments with Adobe Creative Suite. He focused in on each style, using Photoshop (as in Deke's Techniques 189, known temporarily as Deke's Techniques 105: "Op Art Experiment 1a: Inflated Checkers in Photoshop) or Illustrator as needed. Eventually, he ended up with today's Illustrator technique: an Op Art inspired pattern of undulating lines and hypnotic diamonds. Ironically, as much as it represents the manifestation of Deke's mental focus, it could actually mess with your literal ability to focus your eyes.

But the visual effect is only temporary (I hope). The increase in your powers with Illustrator, however, will be permanent (I also hope). Starting with two sets of curly lines, plus an itinerant diamond shape, Deke duplicates, reflects, joins, blends, and eventually creates a pattern that yields this result. You can then fill an entire shape with your pattern and wow your friends and colleagues with your ability to create perfectly aligned visual mayhem. (You can probably use it to bend them to your will, as well.) 

Along the way, you'll become familiar with these key Illustrator tools, commands, and idiosyncrasies:  Read more » 

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